As a project, Gemini Man has been talked about for decades. What if, creator Darren Lemke argued in the late ‘90s, an actor could fight a younger version of himself on-screen, and do it in a way that didn’t look like total shit? 20-odd years later, the technology has finally advanced enough that Ang Lee has decided to tackle the question, alongside a starring and slug-happy Will Smith.
Though the first trailer for the movie
came out earlier this year, the new trailer provides an even closer look at Lee’s vision—a vision that’s rendered in both 3-D and 120 frames per second, rather than the traditional 24. The result is a movie that looks more like a first person shooter game than a cinematic standard, and something that Lee told press at an event on Tuesday was inspired by his quest to really crack the Z axis.
That intense frame rate also means that Smith really had to challenge himself as an actor—both because he’s actually playing two characters on-screen and because the way Lee filmed meant Smith couldn’t really hide any of his flaws. Smith told press at the preview event that he was excited specifically for audiences to see the fight scenes, because the use of 120 fps meant you’ll actually be able to see fists making contact, rather than just catching a bit of motion blur.
For those wondering if Lee dove into the world of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air while making Gemini Man, the answer is yes. Together with the artists at WETA Digital, Lee scoured hours of old Smith footage to craft the fully digital “Junior” the actor plays in the movie. (Smith noted at the press event that literally every part of Junior is digital, including his skin. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was quick to note, however, that Junior is still actually played by Smith, who can be seen crying as a Mo-Capped Junior in some behind the scenes footage.) Lee noted that, in the past, someone like Jaden Smith might have been tapped to throw on some makeup to play Junior opposite his father, but that for Gemini Man, finally the technology has advanced to where he thinks audiences won’t feel jarred out of the story by Junior’s appearance. As Lee put it at the press event, “detail is the step stone to the reality of the mind.”
As for what will happen if audiences embrace his Uncanny Valley and embrace fully CGI-created actors in lieu of living, breathing silver screen idols, Smith says he’s cool with that. He says he looks forward to going “full butt and gut” while encouraging studios to just hire some 23-year-old animated version of him instead. Lee’s slightly more pragmatic, saying Smith’s career is safe, for the time being simply because creating someone like Junior costs about twice as much as Smith demands in salary, and requires hundreds of artists spending tens of thousands of hours creating what says is “a poor imitation of God’s work.”
Watch the new trailer above ahead of the film’s October 11 premiere.